Local News

October 6, 2013

To never be a ‘Newtown,’ Murray schools ‘beef up’ security

More police, anonymous hotline added


Safer schools

Emily Trammel, president of the student council at Murray County High School, said the increased security presence makes her feel “110 percent safe.”

“I see them (sheriff’s deputies) every morning as I walk in,” she said.

Sampson agrees.

“I feel safer,” he said. “I know if something bad were to happen it would be stopped sooner than, say, another school (system). I know someone who wants to do something bad would probably think twice before hitting one of our schools. I know it costs money, but you know, bottom line: the schools are safer.”

Murray County High’s SRO is a man named Ralph Ridley. Ridley, who has had different beats from traffic to patrol, said he had to undergo several weeks of training before stepping into the school setting.

He said he spends most days checking bathrooms, making sure exterior doors are locked and dealing with “minor in comparison stuff” like two girls feuding over a boy. But if someone ever enters the high school poised to kill innocents, Ridley says he knows what to do.

“I’d go straight to the threat,” he said. “I don’t stop. I would radio for backup, but I would go to where the threat is to stop mass casualties.”

He typically patrols the halls with a Glock pistol on one side and a radio on another, but if he knew he was facing a well-armed threat — James Holmes of the Aurora, Colo., movie shootings last year was armed with a shotgun and semi-automatic rifle — he would be within “seconds” of better firepower.

That is thanks to a U.S. Department of Defense program that supplies free military surplus equipment to law enforcement agencies. Ridley, along with at least 30 other deputies, received an M16 assault rifle and a 10-gauge shotgun during the summer from the program.

“If I ever got information that there was someone who was armed with an assault rifle, it doesn’t take me that long to get to that M16 and run to the threat,” he said. Both weapons are typically secured in his patrol car, Ridley added.

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